Sometime before the Civil War, about 1860, a young couple, Arthur and Mary Jane Smith came to Arkansas and bought land in an area called Meg, Arkansas in Franklin County.  When the War Between the States started, Arthur joined the Confederate troops and left Mary with seven children.  When Arthur came home briefly he fathered her eighth child.  Later he was captured and died in a military prison at the age of forty-three.  Mary remained on the homestead, ran the farm and raised the children.

The oldest boy, John James Smith, known as Jim, was born in 1854.  He received as much education as was available in a one-room school and worked on the farm until he had enough money to go to medical school.  He earned his M.D. Degree from Vanderbilt in 1879, when he was twenty-five years of age.  Later he went to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, at that time the most prestigious Medical College in the United States, and graduated in 1891.  He returned home and set up practice in a log cabin in Chism, Arkansas.